Keys for Healing and Divine Health: Part 1
God desires for His people to have abundant life and healthy bodies. There are many promises about healing for our physical bodies in the Scriptures yet for the most part, Christians seem to suffer sickness as much as unbelievers. Why is this?
There is much about healing we have not understood. Sometimes well-meaning Christians have suggested that those who are sick are not walking in faith or have more sin in their life than others who are not sick, but this is not necessarily so. Let’s examine in depth one of God’s promises about healing for a greater understanding of this complex subject.
In Exodus 15:26 God says, “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
Here is a wonderful promise that God will protect us from sickness; and not only that, if we should happen to get sick, He will heal us. However, there are certain conditions we need to fulfill before we can expect to receive this blessing of health. As we examine this passage, we need to see it in its context so we can understand more clearly the situation and the people involved.
In this passage, the Israelites have just crossed the Red Sea on dry ground and entered the wilderness of Shur on their way to the Promised Land. After traveling for three days and having found no water, they came upon a place called Marah.
“And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:23-26).
As we delve in-depth into this scriptural passage, I want to point out that this passage reveals only a few aspects about this complex subject. There are other steps we can take to be healed and ensure our continued walk in health, but the concepts revealed here are very important and we can begin practicing them immediately.
As Christians, our life before Christ is said to be our time in Egypt. Crossing the Red Sea is a type of our salvation and baptism (1 Cor. 10). All of us will have “Marah” (Marah means bitterness) experiences on our way into the Promised Land of victorious living. Some of us will spend our entire Christian life wandering in the wilderness because of our disobedience and lack of faith, but this is not God’s plan for us. He intends for us to walk in health and blessing in every area of life.
Suffering and disappointment come into the life of every person, but how we respond to these bitter experiences determines whether we rise up in victory or wallow in defeat. As someone once said, “Suffering is mandatory but misery is optional.”
The response of the Israelites was typical of many people when encountering the disappointments of life—they murmured and complained. The Hebrew word for “murmur” used here is luwn which means, “to stop overnight,” “stay permanently,” “lie all night,” “be left,” and “hence (in a bad sense) to be obstinate.”
This is what happens when we murmur and complain about our circumstances—we get stuck in them (stay permanently)! We remain in darkness (stop overnight). No matter what bad thing happens in life, the Devil intends it for evil but God intends it for good (Gen. 50:20). If we respond as Moses did by “casting a tree into the waters,” we will come through the difficult situation in much better condition than when we entered it. But what does it mean to “cast a tree into the waters?”
The “tree” spoken of here is symbolic of the cross of Christ. There are several New Testament references to the cross as being a tree including this one in 1 Peter 2:24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
We “cast a tree into the waters” every time we choose to embrace the cross in our difficult situation—that is when we choose to respond according to God’s commands rather than our own natural inclinations. When we’re trying our best to live a good Christian life and disappointments come, we need to understand that God intends it for good. Our job is to seek His direction for how we are to respond in the midst of our difficulties. When we respond scripturally, we die to self and Christ is formed in us. This is “casting the tree into the waters.”
(Because this web site has been largely devoted to satanic ritual abuse, I need to interject here that this article is not pertaining to their particular needs. Survivors of such abuse will find some messages to the church at large need to be adjusted for their peculiar circumstances.)
When we understand that our circumstances have been allowed by God to bring us into His image, we can see our “bitter” experience in a whole new light. We can begin to thank God for the experience, and, as we embrace the cross, we will find our old nature dying away as we are being changed into His likeness. (Those who have been severely abused can embrace the cross by forgiving their abusers. The natural thing would be to hate and curse them, but God does demand forgiveness. We must remember forgiveness is not an emotion. We do not forgive others because they deserve to be forgiven but because God commands it. When we obey God, we trust Him to handle our emotions.)
By way of example I would like to share a “Marah” experience from my own life—a bitter experience that became sweet when I embraced the cross by saying, “Lord, not my will but thy will be done.” This experience concerns my children and grandchildren.
My husband and I raised two lovely daughters who now have their own families and live in other states. We were a very close family. I was a stay-at-home mom who learned early in the child-rearing process that I had to forsake many of my favorite activities in order to be the kind of mother my children needed. Our two girls were a delight during their teenage years, never succumbing to the rebellion and immorality of many of their peers.
As our children were growing up, I was faithful in prayer, and there was one prayer that I probably prayed thousands of times. It was a prayer asking God to allow our children to live near us when they grew up and married so that we could enjoy them and their families. Family was always important to my husband and me and we had good relationships with everyone in his family and mine although none of them lived near us.
God chose to answer that prayer with a “No.” This was extremely hard for me to accept. Our girls married and had children but lived far away from us. For several years we were within a few hours driving distance from at least one of the girls and could be together for holidays and special occasions, but that all changed suddenly when my husband and I were called to serve a church in a Western New York State. Both girls were far from us (in opposite directions!) and at best we only saw them twice a year.
I spent many hours in prayer about the disappointment in my heart over this loss of family nearness, but God assured me He had something much better for me. As I prayed for God’s will to be done and not my own, a great transformation took place in my heart. I died to my own desires, and Christ’s life was more fully manifested in me and to me. His presence became so manifest and dear to me, I no longer cared that family was not near. I still loved them as much as before but Christ had filled the longing in my heart with Himself.
Now I am so free with our family. I can be with them and enjoy them to the fullest, but when it is time to leave I can say goodbye without a single pain in my heart. One of our daughters, who already had two sons, recently gave birth to a baby girl. I went to be with her and spent over a week loving that new baby, holding her and letting my heart go out to her and her brothers fully. When it was time to take the flight home, I walked onto the plane with no tears and no pain.
This fact of separation could have been a “Marah” experience that would have held me back from going on with Christ. Had I grumbled and complained and tried to change the situation, I would have been subjected to pain and disappointment each time I parted from our daughters and grandchildren. Once I accepted the situation as being from God’s hand and embraced the cross, it became a sweet experience. I realize I have much more time for God and He is revealing Himself to me and using me in a ministry that is totally fascinating and fulfilling. If my children lived nearby, I would be babysitting, planning birthday parties, attending ballgames and doing all the things grandparents like to do that take up time. Although I’ve had to forfeit these things, God has mended my heart and now I have peace and joy even though the circumstances have not changed.
How we handle the difficult experiences of life has a direct bearing on our health. Sickness is never from God. Sickness is from the enemy, and we need to seek God for His direction and purpose in our trial. If we have murmured and complained over the non-health related issues, we will not have the spiritual stamina to withstand the enemy’s attacks against our physical body. People who complain in their circumstances are more likely to experience stress than those who have learned to go to God and respond scripturally to their disappointments. Stress always increases our risk for sickness because it weakens our immune system. There is great truth in the verse from Proverbs 17, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…”
If we have murmured and complained in our circumstances, we have forfeited our opportunity for more of Christ to be formed in us. It is Christ in us that increases our faith and helps us stand against sickness.
Once again I want to say we must never judge another person who suffers from ill health. Only God knows our hearts and His ways are far above our ways and His thoughts above our thoughts. One example I’m thinking of is from David Wilkerson’s family. This godly man forsook all to go to New York City and minister to the broken and homeless people of that city. His wife and daughters and granddaughter have all suffered from serious cancers. There is no doubt about their commitment to God yet they have suffered deeply regarding their health. His wife Gwen wrote a book about suffering that undoubtedly has ministered greatly to many others who suffer. I don’t know why all this sickness came them, but I do know that through their great trials they came to know God better and depend upon Him in deeper faith.
However, I also know that God is beginning to reveal keys for health and healing that have been reserved for those of us who are living in the end of the age. God is doing a new thing and part of that new thing is to lift His people up to new levels of health and strength never before known by the church. Walking in this level of wellness will require total commitment to Jesus Christ and total surrender of our lives to Him. Along with this commitment, He will be giving us specific things to do to keep us from contracting the communicable diseases suffered by others around us and to bring us out of the chronic diseases we may have endured for years.
Only if Christ is on the throne of our life will we be able to fulfill the criteria of this verse in Exodus 15. As we submit to His lordship in our daily lives, we will find it possible to obey God’s instructions to hearken to His voice, do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep His statutes.
The first key to walking in divine health, then, is to embrace the cross of Christ that His life may be formed in us. The more we allow Christ to ascend the throne of our life, the more of His power and life we will have to stand against the wiles of the enemy. Carnal Christians will never be able to walk in divine health and the only way out of our carnality is the cross. So this is step number one in our quest for healing and divine health. In Part 2 of this article, we will continue examining this passage from Exodus 15.